THE THROW-IN

Question:
A player takes a throw-in correctly. The ball does not enter the field of play but remains outside the touch line. What action does the referee take?
The throw-in is retaken.

I am assuming that “takes a throw-in correctly” means that the player had both feet on the ground, on our off the touchline, facing the field, both hands on the ball with the ball being brought behind the head and then thrown and released and the ball just doesn’t enter the field of play.

What happens if a player takes a throw-in “incorrectly” but the ball never enters the field? What is the re-start if a thrower lifts one foot during the throw-in but the ball never enters the field? I would believe it to be retaken, but a school of thought has arisen by some that feel that the opposing team would get a throw-in.

USSF answer (May 20, 2008):
You will find your answer in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

15.4 ILLEGAL OR IMPROPERLY TAKEN THROW-IN
Referees must distinguish between a throw-in which infringes on the requirements of Law 15 and one which is not properly taken such that the restart is said not to have been taken. In the first case (infringement), possession of the restart is given to the opponents and taken from the same location; under no circumstances may advantage be applied to a throw-in performed illegally. In the case of a throw-in which is not properly taken, the restart must be taken again by the same team from the same location.

A throw-in may not be performed from a kneeling position under any circumstances.

If the ball touches the ground outside the field before entering the field or if it does not enter the field at all, the throw-in has not properly been taken and must be performed again.

A throw-in which has been performed illegally, for which the referee has stopped play, cannot be given back to the same team in order to perform the restart again. The referee must either decide that the offense was trifling and not stop play, or award the throw-in to the opposing team.

We believe that the “school of thought” to which you refer is probably “attended” by referees who spend too much time with the NFHS rulebook, where the failure of the ball to enter the field on a throw-in is automatically punished by possession of the ball going to the other team for a throw-in by them.

However, the Laws of the Game — the only rules to be used for games played under the aegis of the U. S. Soccer Federation — are clear: If the ball doesn’t enter the field, it has not been put into play and it really doesn’t matter what (if any) technical violations the thrower might have committed in the process. In other words, the thrower could have jumped high into the air but it would still be a retake if the ball never enters the field.

The issue of whether a throw-in is taken correctly or not becomes relevant only in the case of an immediately subsequent violation by the thrower (e. g., second touch or throwing the ball hard at an opponent on the field). In that case, if it wasn’t taken correctly, the restart (throw-in by the opposing team) is based on the first violation, after dealing with any misconduct. ┬áThe Law makes this point explicitly in the case of a throw which results in an opponent being struck violently — if the throw itself was legal, then striking and misconduct occurred; if it wasn’t legal, then only misconduct occurred.

ADDENDUM:
We have had some people asking about the phrase at the end of the Additional Instructions and Guidelines for Referees and Assistant Referees in the Laws of the Game. Under Law 15, the final paragraph reads:

If the ball touches the ground before entering the field of play, the throw-in shall be retaken by the same team from the same position provided that it was taken in line with the correct procedure. If the throw-in is not taken in line with the correct procedure, it shall be retaken by the opposing team.

We have run the matter past FIFA and, for the moment, our original answer stands. It may change next year, but, for the moment, what we have stated is correct, at least in the United States.

ANOTHER INVENTIVE REFEREE STRIKES

Question:
I would appreciate your comments on the following question. I am a a father of five (three in soccer and I coach two of them), a former college player, and have been a soccer ref for a short time. Here is my question:

If, during the course of play, a player clears the ball out (of the defensive end of the field – although I don’t think it matters) can the referee issue a caution (yellow card) for delay of game to the player who cleared the ball? Does it matter whether the player has done it (cleared the ball) several times before during the course of play? How does the referee distinguish between a weak clear and a strong clear?

Does it matter?

As I have always understood the rule, and always seen it applied, a player should only be issued a yellow card for delay in the RESTART of play. Meaning player conduct after the play has been stopped. Until yesterday, I had never seen a ref – and I have never thought it proper(and still don’t) for a ref – to issue a yellow card to a player for clearing a ball. Refs should not be in the position of dictating how hard or where a player decides to clear a ball. See http://images.ussoccer.com/Documents/cms/ussf/07_law_of-the-game.pdf.

Would appreciate your thoughts and comments.

USSF answer (May 9, 2008):
The Laws of the Game do not support disciplinary action for clearing the ball down the field. Nor, in fact, do they support a caution for constantly clearing the ball by kicking it out of play, given by many referees who are as inventive as the one whom you observed.